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Why You Should Get Up Earlier and How to Actually Do It

The purpose of this post is twofold.

First, I’m giving you the benefits of why you should get up earlier. Then, I’m giving you step-by-step instructions on how to do it the right way.

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Please understand that I’m not an advocate of extremes. In other words, if you are currently getting up at 07.30am, trying to get up at 04.30am the next morning could be impossible.

Rather, finding your own pace for making the change and getting up at the time you feel comfortable is a sure way to success.

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7 Benefits of an Earlier Riser

Here are some benefits to getting up earlier. Rather than doing everything I suggest on this list, it helps you to see what is possible with earlier wake-ups.

The most important thing is to figure out your why. This gives you the necessary incentive to make the change. It could be anything on this list, or it could be something else, something that only you know.

  • You have more distraction-free time on your hands. This distraction-free time gives you better opportunities to make progress on your projects and tasks. Some people hit the office for this very reason; phones aren’t ringing or co-workers aren’t asking for your attention.
  • You have more time for your goals. You might have some personal goals you want to reach. Since many people feel exhausted after the day at work, why not work on those personal goals before hitting the office? For instance, I have used the mornings for studying for certification exams, training for marathons and triathlons, and writing my first book (I was working full-time, when I did those).
  • You have time for exercising. Exercising before work gives you a boost in energy at work. Besides, when you do the exercise for the day in the morning, you can’t postpone it anymore by saying you don’t have time for it.
  • More time for your loved ones. When you get up earlier, you can also hit the office earlier and even leave for home earlier. Or, if you exercise in the morning, that time is not taken away from your family in the evening.
  • Read that book you always wanted to read. I try to read at least 60-minutes every day. The morning time is perfect for this, as there are no guarantees how the rest of the day will turn out.
  • Plan your days. Why not just spend a couple of minutes jotting down the tasks you want to accomplish during your day? Just figure out 3-5 tasks you want to accomplish and let this plan act as your guide for the rest of the day.
  • Have a relaxed morning. So what if you don’t want to exercise, read a book, or do anything I just suggested? Well, you can always take the extra time for yourself by having a relaxed morning. For many people, the morning time is very hectic, especially if you have kids in your family. So getting up earlier gives you more “me” time and helps you better prepare for the day.

So How Do You Get Up Earlier, Then?

Ok, so now you know the benefits of getting up earlier. But the next question is: How do you actually do it? The answer is: By taking the gradual approach.

When you implement your new routine in a gradual manner, you don’t bite off more than you can chew. This ensures that you make the change as easy as possible for yourself.

In the case of earlier wake-ups, there are two elements involved in the change process:

  1. Getting to bed earlier
  2. Waking up earlier

There is a reason Getting to bed earlier is bold. It’s because your main focus should be on the earlier bedtime. In other words, once you implement the earlier bedtime, you’ll very likely get out of bed earlier, too.

"Once you implement the earlier bedtime, you’ll very likely get out of bed earlier, too."

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This is what many people (including me, in the past) got wrong. Too often, the emphasis is on getting up early by setting your alarm clock to go off at a pre-determined time in the morning. However, when you put your efforts on hitting the bed earlier, the earlier wake-ups become easier for you.

Here is how to implement this advice in practice:

1

DEFINE YOUR "WHY"

Before you decide to get up earlier, understand the reasons why you'd like to do so: Is it because you want a hassle-free morning, before heading the office? Is it because you want to find time for reading? Is it because you want to exercise?

Only you know the answer to the question "why". Once you know the reason for getting up earlier, it's also easier to get up, too.

2

ALARM

Set an alarm to go off 10-15 minutes earlier in the evening to remind you, that it's now the time to shut down your computer or your TV and start your evening routine.

You could use the alarm in your mobile phone or an alarm application on your computer (GrooveOtter, Free Countdown Timer for PC or Alarm Clock for Mac). So, for instance, if you currently stop browsing the web at 11.30pm, set the alarm to go off at 11.15 pm instead.​

3

ADJUST

Once you get comfortable stopping your online surfing 10-15 minutes earlier (say, for a week), make another adjustment to quit 10-15 minutes earlier the next week.

4

RE-INVEST THE "NEW" TIME

When you are able to free-up your time from web surfing (or whatever activities are keeping you up), spend that freed-up time preparing for the next day, like brushing your teeth, putting on your pyjamas.

5

SPEND THE LAST WAKING MINUTES WISELY

Go to bed, read a fiction book or talk with your spouse. Then, turn off the lights.

4 Valuable Tips to Help You in Your Change

Let’s be honest: Changing your routines takes time and effort. That’s why I give you four tips that can help you both in earlier bedtimes, but also when getting up in the morning.

  • Remember the one minute rule. In his book, Early to Rise, the author, Andy Traub, says you can change the direction of your life with a right mindset in the next 30 days with one minute a day. So when the alarm goes off, it takes only one minute to turn off the alarm clock, put your feet on the floor, wake up, and walk out of the bedroom.

    This strategy is simple, but I like to turn it the other way around. So rather than making the alarm go off in the morning, do this one minute routine in the evening, instead.

    This strategy is simple, but I like to turn it the other way around. So rather than making the alarm go off in the morning, do this one minute routine in the evening, instead: When the alarm goes off, make it a habit to shut down your computer or TV in a minute, walk out of the living room or your work room, and start executing the evening routine, which prepares you for the night’s sleep.
  • Understand the exceptions and the right timing. Sometimes, it’s not possible to live, based on your new daily rhythm.

    For instance, your child might keep you up at night and getting to bed earlier (or getting up earlier) might not be possible. Or, perhaps you are travelling, and you come back home late, while passing the regular bedtime.

    In situations like these, it is important to understand that these events are exceptions to the rule. Blaming yourself for not getting to bed early or getting up earlier is not the right way to handle these situations.

    Rather, accept the fact that sometimes life gets in your way, and you have a chance to return back to the normal rhythm the next day.
  • Repeat the new routine enough. So how long is it going to take, until you have implemented a new evening rhythm? Like in any new habit, it takes time and enough repetitions in order to make the desired habit stick.

    It has been said a habit can be formed in approximately a month, but this is not necessarily true. While a new habit can be implemented in much faster than 30 days, sometimes, it takes much more time than that.

    Once again, you should have a concrete reason for getting up earlier, your why. Once this reason is compelling enough, sticking to new habits becomes much becomes easier.
  • Add accountability into the mix. Accountability is also a great way to stick to the new rhythm and strengthen it.

    For instance, if you have a spouse, you could make an agreement that you are both doing this change together. If either one of you slips out of the agreement, you can politely remind each other that the TV is still on, even if you should be on your way to bed.

Conclusion

The point of this post is to make you understand the benefits of getting up earlier. It’s also worth understanding that making this change is possible if you truly commit to it.

If you decide to become an earlier riser, here are the steps you should take:

  1. Define your "why".
  2. Set a reminder (like an alarm) to remind you to shut down electronics, 10-15 minutes earlier than before.
  3. Adjust to your new bed-going time until you feel comfortable with it. Then, adjust your bed-going time earlier if needed.
  4. Re-invest your "new" time by preparing for the next day.
  5. Do something relaxing before turning off the lights: read a non-fiction book, talk with your spouse, etc.​

Getting up earlier is one of the best things that has happened to me regarding my personal productivity. But it isn't enough.

That's why I have created a PDF document that lists 20 tips for improving the quality of your sleep. After all, a lousy night with little or disruptive sleep will most likely ruin your next day, no matter how productive you might otherwise be.

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Timo Kiander